Top Gun 51 Profile: CommandLink’s Mason Miles Says Future Is Bright for PartnersTop Gun 51 Profile: CommandLink’s Mason Miles Says Future Is Bright for Partners
The award winner talks his start in the channel, ensuring success – for partners and channel managers – and more.
October 20, 2020
Mason Miles is nothing if not effusive and enthusiastic about his role at CommandLink, and within the channel overall. Those are big reasons why he’s a Top Gun 51 award recipient. Miles, senior vice president of sales for the networking and communications platform provider, trains his focus on partner success.
CommandLink’s Mason Miles
“The channel has always been central to my desired career path,” Miles says.
Miles started working in the indirect world in 2012. Over the years – at companies including GTT, Telnes, MegaPath, and then Fusion Connect, which bought MegaPath in 2018 – he has opened new markets via the channel. That experience has been instrumental to his success at CommandLink, he says. Along the way, Miles has cultivated a keen understanding of how to enable partners and their revenue growth.
Those accomplishments created the opportunity for Miles to guide the CommandLink channel, which he has done since March 2019.
“This is a dream scenario for me to be working to scale a channel program for an amazing brand,” Miles says. “I am exceptionally proud of what CommandLink is achieving, but the real credit should be given to my channel sales team and especially the CommandLink operations team, who are exceptional at what they do.”
Those efforts continue to pay off. For example, master agency Telarus in August named CommandLink as its best new supplier for 2019. As another example, Miles points to CommandLink’s support that helps partners scale and increase revenue. This, he says, gives the channel “more selling time by eliminating problems and taking exceptional care of their customers.”
Overall, Miles says, “The CommandLink team and I have a tremendous amount to be grateful to channel partners for. But we are just getting started; our collective futures will be very bright together.”
CommandLink’s Mason Miles is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.
Find out more about Miles and his thoughts on the channel in this Q&A, which has been edited for length.
CP: What makes a channel program successful, and why?
MM: I believe an effective channel program is the sum of clearly defined messaging on how the program will benefit the partner and their customer. This makes it easy for the partner to conduct business, and enables the channel sales team to work with speed and efficiency. CommandLink has worked hard on each of those points, and every team member is able to operate at velocity while maintaining a work-life balance. That can be difficult to find in channel sales. We have a very special culture within CommandLink, and that team mentality means everyone is eager to perform and is quick to address challenges. And we are looking forward to adding more talented people to our family as we continue to grow in a controlled and methodical manner.
CP: One of the reasons you earned a Top Gun 51 award is due to how you are “redefining channel partner expectations as to how suppliers should perform for their customers.” Talk more about that.
MM: CommandLink’s philosophy is that our industry has some collective challenges revolving around support and operational breakdowns, which if eliminated, provide a distinct competitive advantage for a supplier. We built CommandLink to solve those challenges through the combination of our proprietary IT service management software platform, the dedicated technical resources …
… we wrap around every customer, and a philosophy that an escalation is a failure of process.
To quote our head of engineering, “Most carriers operate to an acceptable level of customer pain, while CommandLink firmly believes no amount of preventable customer pain is acceptable.” The power in that statement is massive, and it is a testament to how CommandLink is unique. While I was extremely honored to receive the Top Gun 51 award in 2020, I must give credit to the entire CommandLink team, especially our operations leadership and staff for their daily contribution to our momentous success.
CP: Another reason you won comes down to your ability to work with people. What is your philosophy on leadership? What led you to that philosophy?
MM: I believe in surrounding my team with exceptional people in a positive and collaborative working environment. I believe it is my responsibility as a leader to enable my sales team to work at velocity while jumping in to help overcome deficiencies and challenges which constantly occur. Also, I need to deliver on the ability to help my team advance relationships and the opportunities originated from them, so I persistently work on my craft as a sales professional and leader. I aspire to manage my decision-making process to be centered around integrity. And I want to lead by example by working every day with intensity in pursuit of the compound effect, but always with care to value balance.
In addition to perpetual reading and research, I primarily credit the amazing leaders I have had in my life, starting with my father who led by example as an amazing Salt Lake City businessman and entrepreneur in my early professional career. And to those leaders who have helped me throughout my channel career, I sincerely thank you.
CP: COVID-19 has changed so much of how we all work. What have been the biggest impacts so far when it comes to you and your interactions with the channel?
MM: I’ve been selling communications and collaboration services for a decade, with time split between constant virtual meetings and meetings attended after airplane commutes. The rapid move to virtual during the pandemic was simple for CommandLink, and also for our customers. I can think of numerous examples where CommandLink customers moved from 100% office-based to 100% remote-working in less than 48 hours. This was further enabled by the graceful decision made by Jason Ness, CommandLink CEO, to provide every CommandLink UCaaS customer with free collaboration services during the lockdown.
But upon reflection, Americans are evolving, businesses are adapting, and our sales are swiftly headed up and to the right. The pandemic has actually added velocity for CommandLink, and we are doubling efforts on marketing, virtualization and video, and other creative means to stay connected. But I dearly miss the frequent personal interactions offered through face-to-face meetings and events where channel partners from all over the country have literally become lifelong friends. While I firmly believe humanity is adapting and American ingenuity will win out, nothing can replace the deep personal relationships I have forged while spending personal time with the exceptional people in the channel.
CP: Diversity and the fight against racism have become critical topics for business and the nation. What actions do you see the channel taking to improve the situation?
MM: It is sad to see the divisiveness occurring in our country. Every organization, especially those with a national focus, should be inclusive to ideas, messaging and events that foster unification and acknowledge varied perspectives. We at CommandLink commit to doing our part in those efforts. I have always felt the channel has been …
… very inclusive and has done an exceptional job in that regard. That is my perspective. Being conscientious and respectful of varied perspectives, even while disagreeing, is probably the biggest thing we all can do to improve on our collective futures.
CP: Is CommandLink doing anything specific on the diversity front that partners will want to know?
MM: CommandLink is an organization dedicated to hiring the absolute best, enabling them with training and tools, and welcoming individual contributions from as we continue to grow. Everyone is welcome, and we feel an inclusive culture is not only the best environment for our team members, it’s also the right thing to do.
CP: What plans do you have in store for the CommandLink channel for the rest of 2020 and into 2021?
MM: For the rest of 2020, CommandLink is on the hunt for adding talented people to scale our organization that is firing on all cylinders. We are adding to our channel sales team and software development team, while adding operations experts before its needed in our continual commitment to maintain consistency of experience. In 2021, CommandLink has big plans. We will continue leading the convergence of service providers and SaaS by releasing even more proprietary software products that will be sold through channel partners without eliminating any other capability in our portfolio. In addition, we will continue to add stability and growth.
CP: Overall, what have you learned most from your experience with the channel and partners?
MM: The immediate thought that came to me was that doing what is right consistently provides financial gain. We do need to optimize our daily disciplines as salespeople in the pursuit of revenue; otherwise, we risk burning our most valuable resource: time. But doing the right thing for the partners I have supported has been a core element to my decision-making process throughout my career, and it has reliably served me well.
CP: What advice would you give someone just starting out in channel leadership?
MM: Be tactical and develop a systematic approach to channel management. Far too often, companies will hire a channel manager, give them a laptop, business cards and an expense account and tell them to go find the revenue. My advice is to find exceptional mentors, like I have had in my career. Pull the best from what they taught, and develop of a systematic approach to both partner development and opportunity advancement that will help your teams be successful. You also have to be very present in enabling their success. This means being an expert in partner relationship development, customer presentations and aiding in the navigation of complex sales processes. The goal is to enable and train talented channel managers to focus on what will drive revenue with the systems, content and a consistent oversight to course correction to help ramp – and ultimately maximize – each channel manager’s success.
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